Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement highlighting the importance of National Non-Smoking Week, which takes place from January 20-26.
"Each year, more than 37,000 Canadians die from tobacco smoking-related diseases in Canada.
"Recognizing the heavy toll that tobacco use continues to have on Canadians and their families, including the victims of second hand smoke, our Government has worked with provinces, territories and municipalities on educating Canadians about the dangers of smoking, discouraging people from starting to smoke and supporting those who wish to quit.
"Specific measures have included restricting where people can smoke; restricting access to tobacco products, especially for youth; participating in tobacco cessation programs; and, raising awareness of the health hazards associated with tobacco use and the benefits of quitting.
"Most recently, our Government introduced new warning labels on cigarette packages, which feature a national quitline phone number for people who want help quitting. We have also banned flavoured little cigars, which were clearly targeted towards youth.
"These collective efforts are working. Smoking is at an all-time low in Canada - having dropped to 17 percent in 2011. While this downward trend is encouraging, tobacco use continues to be the most important cause of premature death in Canada and adds considerable strain to health care costs. We will therefore continue to work with all levels of government on helping Canadians stay smoke free.
"It is never too late to quit smoking. I encourage Canadians to take up the challenge in 2013 and break the habit."